Before I get going on this week's topic, I'd like to open this page up to you, the reader. What would you like me to write about here? What questions do you have for me, about writing, or for anyone, about anything? Leave your suggestions in the comments, and I will do what I can for you!
This week, however, I will talk about senses. One of the most oft-repeated phrases a new writer hears from critics, teachers, and especially editors, is "show, don't tell". Basically, this means to tap into the reader's memories so that the reader can experience what's happening, rather than just imagining it. For example, if a story you're reading was describing a scene at a county fair, it might go something like this: The midway was crowded with people, and littered with trash. Scott couldn't take two steps without bumping into someone or wading through empty food containers and soft drink cups. Several times, Scott glimpsed a rat tail disappearing under a garlic-fry paper boat, or into a discarded ice cream cone. Fairly descriptive, if I do say so myself, but consider this version: Scott's nose wrinkled involuntarily as the mingled aromas of stale hot dogs, cold popcorn, and half-digested chili burgers invaded his nostrils and ransacked his sinus cavities. His ears rang with the raucous shouts of children and screams of mothers as the roller coaster entered its final plunge. He watched as a young man tested his strength with the hammer, sending the block soaring towards the bell, along with a fine spray of nervous perspiration; a physiological response to the fear that he might disappoint his pretty, but infamously shallow, date. Scott wiped the foreign sweat from his face, but could feel it clinging to his hair, and back of his neck.. The rustle of paper drew Scott's attention, and he watched a plump rat crawl into the open hole of a red-rimmed Icee cup.
Hopefully, you'll agree that the second example makes for better reading. If not, I should probably give up now. It's better because it involves the reader's senses, or more precisely, the reader's memories of the senses. The first passage tells the reader what is there, while the second encourages the reader to remember experiencing the smell of cold popcorn, the sound of screaming children, the feel of someone else's flying sweat. If I may toot my own horn a bit, it even suggests the feel of a plummeting roller coaster, and the taste of a cherry Icee. Not all of that may have come through for every reader - remember, I'm still new at this - but I feel confident that a lot more of it came through in the second passage than in the first.
This is what the writer that cares about his or her reader attempts to achieve. We want you to experience our stories, not just imagine them. Hopefully, you'll find that I care enough about your reading experience to not force you to rely on imagination.
Remember to leave a comment about what you'd like me to discuss on here in future weeks! And please share this if you know someone who might benefit from the content.
Here we are, my final memoir post. I'll post more entries about my writing journey, but this is my last memoir. It was the most emotional one for me, and even now, I'm hesitant to share it. Once again, it features my dad, but it's all about me, not him. Hopefully, it's almost my best memoir, since it was almost the last one I wrote. The holiday one was my last one, and in my impartial opinion, that one was my best. This one should be pretty close, though. I hope you can appreciate both the emotional effort it took, and the accumulation of skills that I theoretically acquired during my memoir-writing class. first_time_memoir.docx
Here we are, smack-dab in the middle of Black History Month. I have no stories to tell of Black history. I'm not black, and only a handful of my friends are black. However, when I think of what I know about the history of race-relations in the U.S., I am awestruck by the bravery shown by many African-Americans over the centuries. I've never had that kind of courage. I only remember once when I needed it. I give you that story now, along with a story of someone specific that I do admire for their courage... my son. courage_memoir.docx
Winter is a time when many people like to imagine warm and sunny vacation destinations. They long for warmth, relaxation, or maybe just some Vitamin D. Some folks imagine far-off, exotic locations they've never visited, while others recall places that hold great sentimental value for them. I do both. I dream of vacationing, or possibly even living in sunny Mexico, or one of the Caribbean Islands. When I feel nostalgic, though, I remember my favorite location. In this memoir, I attempt to describe it to what was my best ability. Hopefully, you will be able to picture it. I know some of the piece's flaws and shortcomings, such as leaving many of the reader's senses uninvolved. That's why I said it was to the best of my ability. Description is not easy for me, which seems counter-intuitive, doesn't it? A writer does nothing but describe, one might think. Yeah, I agree. It's a challenge I have to overcome. Let me know how well you think this story does. favorite_place_memoir.docx